Hucknall’s St Mary Magdalene Church has passed the first round of lottery funding as part of a major restoration plan for the medieval building.
The church, which was built in stages between the 12th and 14th centuries, has passed the first round for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support and has been given initial development cash of £17,700 to help staff pursue a full grant in 2014.
The project aims to carry out essential conservation work to the exterior of the church, which is the final resting place of poet Lord Byron, and to improve access and facilities for visitors.
Planned work includes the restoration or replacement of worn sandstone on the exterior of the building, as well as upgrading the visitors centre inside the church and renewing displays of church and local heritage.
This project would bring together the Newstead Abbey Byron Society, Eric Coates Society and other local history and heritage groups to develop high quality displays covering a broad range of heritage topics.
These would rotate every few months to encourage repeat visits, a spokesman for the HLF told the Hucknall Dispatch.
The exciting scheme would also provide an opportunity for the church to support educational activities with schools and help train local volunteers.
David Picken, Archdeacon of Newark, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given St Mary Magdalene this support.
“Hucknall needs some good news and it’s great to know that this project will both preserve the fabric of this beautiful building for future generations but also make it’s heritage more accessible and interesting to the local community.”
St Mary Magdalene church stands on the site of a former Saxon church and contains one of the largest collections of Kempe stained glass windows in the country.
The HLF spokesman said: “Although the church has a rich cultural and historical heritage, currently this is poorly displayed and there is a need to tell the story of Lord Byron and his family, composer Eric Coates, Ben Caunt, champion boxer of England, and Charles Eamer Kempe, the Victorian stained glass artist,”
Hucknall MP Mark Spencer commented: “It’s fantastic news that the Lottery have recognised the importance of Mary Magdalene Church and its historical connections to Lord Byron and the town of Hucknall.
“I look forward to seeing the improvements taking place and want to congratulate the team who put the bid together.